The global economy seems headed for a severe recession and parallels are being drawn with the global financial crisis of 2008 and the slowdown brought about in 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic. A lot of hope that any serious setback can be averted rests on a high degree of fine tuning of policy which may be difficult to deliver.
A Myriad Of Reasons:
Rise Of The US dollar:
The US dollar has been surging for the past few months. It’s now the strongest it has been in two decades, and experts believe the value will grow even stronger in the coming days. But this surge in the value of the power of the greenback is agitating the economies and markets worldwide, and creating winners and losers. Though a strong dollar bodes well for the Americans, the consequences are faced by other countries, especially the developing ones. The rise of US dollar has led to a decline in the value of UK pound, the euro, China’s yuan, Japan’s yen, India’s rupee and many others. As a result, it makes it more expensive for these nations to import essential items like food and fuel.
War and inflation:
The Russia-Ukraine war and the resultant inflation spike have caused the most harm to the people of the United Kingdom. The UK has been struggling with surging prices since COVID-19, followed by the trade disruptions created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. After the West imposed sanctions on Russian gas, energy prices have soared and supplies have dwindled.
America’s economic engine stalls:
The No. 1 driver of the world’s largest economy is shopping. And America’s shoppers are tired. After more than a year of rising prices on just about everything, with wages not keeping up, consumers have pulled back.
Interest rates have risen at a historic pace, pushing mortgage rates to their highest level in more than a decade and making it harder for businesses to grow. Eventually, the Fed’s rate hikes should broadly bring costs down. But in the meantime, consumers are getting a one-two punch of high borrowing rates and high prices, especially when it comes to necessities like food and housing.
Americans opened their wallets during the 2020 lockdowns, which powered the economy out of its brief-but-severe pandemic recession. Since then, government aid has evaporated and inflation has taken root, pushing prices up at their fastest rate in 40 years and sapping consumers’ spending power.
What The Growth No. Says:
The global economy growing by a mere 3.2 per cent this year, down from last year’s 6 per cent and set to reach a paltry 2.7 per cent in the coming year. The US economic growth is likely to fall this year precipitously to 1.6 per cent from 5.7 per cent last year and set to go down further to a mere 1 per cent next year. Absolutely, the worst off is the Euro area and, in particularly, Germany, which is set to see a negative growth, that is its economy will contract by 0.3 per cent next year from the current year’s 1.5 per cent, which itself is down from last year’s 2.6 per cent.
What The History Tells:
The experience of the 1970s, the policy responses to the 1975 global recession, the subsequent period of stagflation, and the global recession of 1982 illustrate the risk of allowing inflation to remain elevated for long while growth is weak. The 1982 global recession coincided with the second-lowest growth rate in developing economies over the past five decades, second only to 2020. It triggered more than 40 debt crises and was followed by a decade of lost growth in many developing economies.
The Upshot: Light Of Hope:
While the consensus is that a global recession is likely sometime in 2023, it’s impossible to predict how severe it will be or how long it will last. Not every recession is as painful as the 2007-09 Great Recession, but every recession is, of course, painful. Some economies, particularly the United States, with its strong labor market and resilient consumers, will be able to withstand the blow better than others.
The immediate future for the world economy lies in the ability of the authorities around the world to correctly calibrate monetary policy so that there is no over-tightening or under-tightening of money. The former will lead to prolonged recession and debt and payments crises in developing economies, as has already started to happen in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The latter will lead to an inability to bring inflation under control.
Even as all eyes are set on getting monetary policy right, fiscal policy cannot be left to go on doing its own thing. It must not increase liquidity, which can well result from efforts to lower taxes to ease the burden of costly essentials on the consumer. Besides, in conditions of price rise, governments in poorer countries need to do something to alleviate the burden on the common man. The only way to do this without excessively loosening the purse strings will be to target financial support to the vulnerable groups.